Richmond Debates Tighter Inclusionary Regs
A majority of the Richmond City Council voiced support during a workshop on Feb. 27, 2018, for boosting the city's inclusionary housing requirements along with expanding the ordinance to include rental developments. But Mayor Tom Butt delivered a dose of economic reality, saying he was skeptical about the efficacy of increasing housing production costs in a city where even developers that already have entitlements are not breaking ground because “they can’t make any money here.” Richmond has among the lowest rents, home values and personal incomes in the Bay Area. But construction costs are the same as they are anywhere in the Bay Area, Butt said. “We should be asking developers, what would it take to get you to build in Richmond?” Butt said. Richmond currently requires for-sale residential developers to set aside 10 percent to 17 percent of units as affordable depending on income category or pay an equivalent $8 per sq. ft. in-lieu fee. A Keyser Marston nexus study concluded that the city could legally justify charging up to $13.20 per sq. ft. for a single-family house and $15.20 for a townhome. Among the ideas presented at the workshop was a staff recommendation to create inclusionary fee zones, where the lower value areas of town including downtown would see a more modest fee or even no fee. In addition, staff is also recommending the city adopt a low or no fee category for rental residential development until the city reaches specific production milestones. The city is also looking at adopting a new modest commercial linkage fee although it appears likely that it will exempt retail. Staff expects to return to the City Council in mid-2018 with an updated economic feasibility study and several councilmembers said they also want to hold community meetings before they make any final decisions. Click HERE to access the Richmond City Council agenda. Scroll to agenda Item No. J-1. Click HERE to watch the meeting video. Scroll to the Feb. 27, 2018 meeting. The J-1 discussion starts at 1:14:44. Click HERE to read BIA|Bay Area’s comment letter dated Feb. 27, 2018.